There aren’t many authors who have out-sold Nancy Meyer. JK Rowling, Mao Zedong and the team of people who invented the bible have all managed it, and so has Stieg Larsson, the late Swedish author who wrote the Millenium crime novels.
Although a rush on cinemas to rival the teen-fueled Twilight openings is unlikely, it’s fair to say that there will be a bit of interest in the release of this first film of much-vaunted trilogy.
However despite its class, this subtitled film (which has been released across Europe sporadically over the last year) might receive slightly cooler reviews than the novel.
Although it is original and probing, at over two and a half hours in length it does start to meander rather than drive towards it’s finale. In stages it even dangles dangerously close to the category of action-lite whodunnit.
What saves it from this fate though is an excellent performance from Noomi Rapace in the titular role (although she could use a bit of support), a subversive plot which twists unpredictably (eventually) and the exploration of some important and pretty topical themes such as the failings of social care, corporate malpractice and right-wing extremism.
These undercurrents are viewed through the eyes of two main characters; investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist and skilled computer hacking punk Lisbeth Salander.
After losing a libel case against a corporationy business tycoon, Blomkvist is sentenced to three months in prison, but in the six months he has to wait before his jail-term begins he is contacted by a wealthy old gentleman who wants him to try and solve a mystery that has baffled police for four decades.
Henrik Vanger, the CEO of a substantial business network still mourns for his missing great-niece, whom he believes was murdered by someone in his particularly nasty Nazi family when she was sixteen.
When Lisbeth hacks his computer she becomes intrigued by the case and they eventually team up to form an oddly formidable detective partnership.
Along the way we see Lisbeth free herself from the attentions of a perverted social guardian with impressive dash. When we see her tie up her molester and ram a dildo up his backside (one of the stand-out scenes of the film) you begin to understand that this is a girl who does not suffer fools – or indeed rapists.
In the end this thoughtful thriller just about justifies itself, but remains rather pedestrian throughout.